History and histories

A Cloud of Regrets

Photo credit: Museo Storico Alfa Romeo

“Out of every ten projects you do, only one makes it to production…” says Walter de Silva, with the serenity of those who know the value of his own talent, when we ask him why that magnificent Concept called Nuvola (Cloud) never came onto the market “it’s a shame, before the arrival of the 146 and the 147, Alfa needed a halo model, the Nuvola had everything Alfa needed to put it fairly and squarely back on the map”.

Both the rear view of the Nuvola, as well as the front, is reminiscent of the magnificent Alfa Romeo sports cars of the late 1930s

De Silva, then head of the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo, who subsequently moved on to Audi with considerable success, recalls how the car – it was 1996 –  arrived at a time of radical changes at the helm of Fiat with Paolo Cantarella, a great fan of sports cars, becoming CEO and who had wanted it at the Paris Motor Show. The harmony of the lines that elegantly bring many of the features of some of Alfa’s most famous pre-wars models into a modern era, generated a considerable number of purchase requests and even Luca di Montezemolo, then President of Ferrari, was interested in the car fearing it could become a rival of his latest creation, the F355.

The refined interior of the Nuvola that combines a sporting character with unmistakable elegance. Note the wooden steering wheel in a nod to traditional sports cars

In fact, the car was significantly smaller but with its 2,500cc twin-turbo six-cylinder engine producing 300 horsepower and four wheels drive, it was no slouch. Born red, it was presented in blue, as befitted its name, Nuvola. A name that also wanted to recognize a great champion who contributed so much to the many successes of Alfa: Tazio Nuvolari. But this was not enough “even if we had rationalized the project by exploiting the potential of existing platforms, the investment for a new model was huge…” concludes de Silva who had done so much to complete the fully-functional prototype.

Walter de Silva who designed the Nuvola with the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo team before becoming Audi’s director of design

As we celebrate 110 years of Alfa, talking about the Nuvola is both a source of pleasure and also of regret. It is nice to remember such a magnificent project and, at the same regretful to realize how the failure to create this car caused the Alfa Brand to lose the opportunity to renew the magic of the sports car manufacturer who to a large degree, wrote the book on this subject.

The side view shows how compact the Nuvola is, albeit with excellent performance thanks to its supercharged engine capable of 300hp